The Department of Education, headed by Secretary Betsy DeVos (pictured above), is investigating whether a metro Atlanta school district’s transgender bathroom policy was a factor in an alleged sexual assault on a five-year-old girl, the local Ledger-Enquirer and other outlets are reporting.
The complaint, filed on behalf of the child by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a Christian legal advocacy group, says a boy was allowed into the girl’s bathroom of the Oakhurst Elementary School in Decatur, Georgia — where he sexually assaulted the young girl.
The boy, who is biologically male but “identifies” as gender-fluid, apparently pushed the five-year-old girl against a bathroom wall and groped her, according to the narrative ADF submitted to the Department of Education.
The girl and the other student, whose age has not been reported, apparently came back into the classroom and did not say anything about the incident — but the girl told her mother what happened after complaining of pain in her genital area, according to the complaint.
The school referred officials from child services to the mother’s home and suggested moving the girl out of the class.
The mom eventually transferred the child out of the school because it was “unsafe,” the complaint says.
“Unfortunately, the Decatur Schools, including Superintendent [David] Dude and the leadership of the Oakhurst Elementary School, despite being notified of the assault, have continued to discriminate against [the victim] by exhibiting deliberate indifference towards the sexual assault, towards its harmful impact on [the victim’s] educational opportunities, and towards the risks of further assaults by the assailant or others facilitated by the policy,” ADF says in its complaint.
“A school’s top priority is to protect the safety and bodily privacy of its students, period,” said ADF-allied attorney Vernadette Broyles in a release, as the Miami Herald and other outlets reported.
“Decatur Schools’ policies have created a stressful, unfair, and, as in this case, even unsafe environment — particularly for girls. We are grateful that [the Department of Education’s] OCR [Office of Civil Rights] is investigating this tragedy, and we hope the agency helps this school district and others adopt common-sense solutions that protect the privacy and safety of all students.”
Decatur City Schools pushed back on ADF’s allegation.
“City Schools of Decatur is committed to supporting all students. We are aware of the unfounded allegations made by the Alliance Defending Freedom. We fully disagree with their characterization of the situation and are addressing it with the Office of Civil Rights. As this is a pending legal matter, we have no further comment at this time,” City Schools of Decatur spokeswoman Courtney Burnett told McClatchy, according to the Associated Press.
The complaint alleges three things that the Department of Education is expected to investigate: Did school officials fail to provide an adequate response to the incident? Did the school retaliate against the student’s mother by referring child services to her home? And did the district’s policy create a “hostile environment for the students and other girls”?
A spokesperson for the department stressed the investigation would look into “any and all factors that may have contributed to a hostile environment,” according to Politico.
Predictably, even with the attack on a small child, one high-profile LGBTQ advocacy group seemed as concerned about its own rights as it was about the physical safety of a small child.
“Every allegation of sexual assault must be taken seriously, and each deserves a full, thorough investigation that respects the rights and privacy of survivors,” the National Center for Transgender Equality said in an emailed statement, as per Politico.
“We are deeply concerned, however, that the Department of Education will inject politics and ideology into its investigation of the school’s handling of this incident.”
Former President Barack Obama, while in office, wrote a controversial advisory urging schools to allow students to use the bathroom that conformed to their gender identity.
For more on transgender bathroom policies, see the video below.